Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


Release Neck Tension, Fix Migraines

Welcome back Tai Chi students! This week, we are revisiting a stretch we did on the blog nearly three years ago, so that all our new readers can benefit from learning it, and the ones who have seen it can have a healthy reminder (as well as learn some new information).

So let's talk about the neck. Most of us lose full range of motion in the neck simply because we do not use it enough. It's like the old saying goes: if you don't use it, you lose it. The neck is designed to turn 90 degrees to the left and 90 degrees to the right, but most people can only turn 45 degrees to each side. When turning your head around on your neck, you should be able to see the back of your shoulders.

While you are doing this stretch, the body will try to take shortcuts at certain points, when you cannot turn any more with good alignment, and it will tilt the head toward the side of the turn (bringing your chin closer to your shoulder). Make sure you maintain correct alignment and keep the chin parallel to the floor. Doing the stretch with a friend or family looking and helping you maintain alignments goes a long way. 

Use the block, a book, or any other object to help keep the neck and head straight. Without the block, the neck and head will extend forward toward the wall, which will brake alignments.

Also: focus on moving up through the neck more than on turning around. What I do is use the inhalation to lengthen through the neck upward (like there is a string pulling on the tip of my head from the heavens) for about 9 inhalations. Inhaling helps with the upward movement and releasing shoulder tension. Then, after 9 inhalations, I slightly turn on an exhalation. 

Remember the 80 percent effort rule! Less is more when it comes to stretching, especially the neck!

And that's it! Happy stretching, deep breathing, and empty your mind!

Complete Office Exercise Series + Forearm Office Stretch

Welcome back mind-body students!

This week's blog is a collection of all the Office Exercise Series, as well as one new office exercise, the forearm stretch.

So, without further ado, let's look back over those office techniques!

Complete Office Exercise Series

The first office exercise we showed you was the office meditation series, including candle watching, breath counting, water breath, and fire breath. There are so many ways to take a quick, 5 minute meditation while at the office. You are sure to find one that works for you!

Next, we focused on the parts of the body that are most stressed when working on a computer and in a chair all day: the neck and the upper back. For that, I showed you what I call the "emergency posture for the neck". Obviously, this isn't just a stretch that you do when you are in a severe pain emergency: dull achy necks get benefits from this stretch too!

Really feeling that mid-afternoon slump? 2-3 o'clock seem like it drags on forever? Most people will drink some coffee or each a bar of chocolate to turn their brain back on. But we all know that can cause you to crash later on. Instead, I suggested doing Up and Down in the office to get the blood flowing, the heart rate up, and reactivating the mind in the natural way.

What's in between the upper back and the legs? The lower back of course! Many people who work in office environments can develop stiff lower backs from constant sitting. The Three Musketeers Stretch I showed you relieves a lot of lumbar pressure and eases that lower back ache.

The next technique might seem kind of funny to some people (and many people already do it without even knowing about it!). It's a technique that relieves stress by using sigh sounds. You might not be able to do a full, loud sigh in your office, so I explain a few ways to do this technique with less noise, but while still letting that physical and mental stress go.

The first of the newer techniques is the chair twist, which is a great stretch for helping the body to regulate itself properly (particularly the internal organs and digestion). When your internal functions are well regulated, it reduces stress and improves mood, energy, and immune function. That's a great way to improve performance at the office!

The second of the new installments showed you how to stretch your arms overhead, and behind the back. This is another great stress reliever for the upper body, particularly the shoulders. You can even get a good face and jaw relaxation going while doing this stress. I find this stretch, when combined with deep breathing, to be a great way to relax from a hard day's work.

And last but not least, this newest installment in the series: the forearm stretch. Obviously, typing on the computer and using a mouse all day can cause not only tension and pain the in forearm, but also chronic inflammation (called carpal tunnel). This stretch helps to relieve those symptoms, and prevent chronic issues from arising.

P.S. The audio for the video cut out for the last 30 seconds, but we added subtitles so you don't miss my summary of the stretches benefits!

That's it! Happy Stretching!

Office Exercise Series: Elbows Over and Behind

Hello again, mind-body students!

We continue with our second new installment in the Office Exercise Series this week, moving on two a two-part stretch that you can call "Elbows Over and Behind."

This stretch is great for relaxing the whole upper body, as well as beating that regular 2-3pm slump that many people who work in offices get. Rejuvenate your energy stores and focus your mind by doing these two exercises and you'll see results in no time!